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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  January 27, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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a federal prison for the criminally insane? well, what if it was the convict's one chance of escaping a ten-year sentence and walking out of prison a free man? but before he would be sprung, he had a job to do, and in an especially dangerous prison. getting in, it turns out, was the easy part. getting out alive was much harder. >> two enemies who didn't trust each other faced off across a table. one of them in handcuffs, was a clever con named jimmy keen. the other a hard-charging prosecutor. >> he called me the john gotti. >> the prisoner was worried sick. the prosecutor who had just convicted keen and put him behind bars suddenly wanted to talk. a top secret meeting, no less. what more could he do to jimmy? >> he was the last person i expected to hear from. he was my biggest fear. >> but keen's fears went off the
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charts when the prosecutor larry beaumont slid an accordian file in his direction. on top was a grisly photo of a dead girl. >> i flip the next page, and here's another mutilated dead girl. i'm thinking, whoa, wait a second. >> you're probably thinking that he is about to charge you with something else. >> i had been pretty rough on him in the initial prosecution. >> jimmy was in the dark. he had no idea the crazy scheme beaumont had in mind. >> he said, gem jimmy, listen, this is something we have another person on. he has killed many, many young women, and i personally think you're the one that can help us with this. >> this turned out to be an investigation to try and catch a suspected serial killer. beaumont, an outside the box thinker, believed this convict, jimmy keen, was the one who could somehow crack the case, taking on a unique and deadly
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mission. >> i realized how serious it was, and i also realized the danger of it. >> but what he couldn't know was how such a daring mission would change his world and the person he was forever. if this all seems fodder for a hollywood movie, brat pitt would agree. the mega star, who was benjamin button, then "moneyball" billy bean, is now interested in playing none other than jimmy keen. >> brad pitt likes the fact that this guy, jimmy keen, risked his life to try to find what he could find. >> clearly, this guy is one of a kind. charismatic, conceded, courageous, and complicated. from an early age, he had the personality, charm, and cockiness who made him dream that a hollywood star that might one day want to play him in the movies. his first big brush with fame came on the football field. >> i heard they called you the
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asassin in football. that was a good thing, i take it. >> i was taught my my dad at a young age. he said, son, if you don't hit that guy first, he is going to hit you and hurt you first. >> a superstar athlete and mr. popularity in high school, jimmy seemed to have it all as a big fish in the river city of illinois, a blue collar town south of chicago. >> i was most valuable player. i was captain of the team. every year that i played. >> jimmy grew up in the shadow of his father, big jim, a giant of a man who was a cop, fireman, and hero to his son. >> he was my best friend. he was my backbone in pretty much everything i did. >> but a terrible choice he made, as a teenager he began selling drugs. he started small, peddling bags of marijuana here in this park. then he expanded to cocaine. at the tender age of 17 he moved
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to chicago, where the business and profits exploded. he was now a big fish in a bigger pond. lake michigan to be exact. he was his own in crowd, fast cars, faster women and souped-up living. >> all the hot spots, all the big nightclubs, all the owners i was in tight with. i would come in there and have carte blanche in every place that i went to. >> were you feeling invincible? >> there was a certain point i felt there was an invincible feeling. >> did your pop suspect? >> he didn't suspect it until much, much later. >> it would be a rude awakening for both his dad and jimmy in 1996 when jimmy was just relaxing at one of his chicago homes. >> all of a sudden, kaboom, the whole door just blew off the hinges and came flying into the house. all of these d.e.a., fbi, and locals all came in in single file line with their automatic weapons pointed at me, freeze, get on the ground, get on the ground. >> he had been caught in a drug
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sting, spearheaded by that hard-nosed federal prosecutor, larry beaumont. >> we scooped him up in an operation that i ran, we called it operation snowplow. >> and in court, beaumont showed keen no mercy. >> he was coming at you on all fours. wasn't he? >> oh, god. he was a bulldog. >> jimmy was convicted and slapped with a ten-year sentence. >> it was a pretty stiff sentence. i knew he didn't expect to get ten years in that case. >> your father was in the courtroom. >> right. i knew i had let him down, and probably one of the biggest ways you could let somebody down. >> keene's future was bleak. he faced ten years away from his glamorous life, the fast women, fancy cars, the big bucks. but in 1998 just when all hope seemed lost, his old nemesis, beaumont, came to him with an offer of freedom, attached to the accordion file he slid across the table. in return, keene would have to agree to risk everything and
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become an undercover informant in one of the roughest prisons in the country, the maximum security lockup in springfield, missouri. it was a psychiatric prison, with both hard-core killers, and the criminally insane. >> these people all have life sentences. they're all in there, and they're crazy, and they have nothing better to do than to try to hurt you or kill you just for some fun. >> if he accepted beaumont's offer, keene's target would be a suspected serial killer, a mysterious man in a van. coming up, every picture tells a story. >> when i put the picture down, he flinched, raised his arm up and refused to look at the picture.
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>> several years before jim where i came to arrest and conviction, his personal life, as he tells it, was nonstop fun and games. there were a lot of hot clubs here in the 1990s. this was a place you were doing business as well. >> lived, worked and played right here, yes. it was a good time. >> back then, he had no idea about the danger lurking 150 miles south and a lifestyle away that would change his life forever.
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rural tranquil georgetown, illinois, is where terry roach and her husband, loren, were raising their 15-year-old daughter jesse, and two other children, far removed from big-city crime. >> everybody knew who everybody was. so they were more conscious of what was going on usually. you could count on somebody to get after your kids if they needed it. >> in 1993, jesse was a high school sophomore, devoted to home and family. >> jesse was really very much of a homebody. so one bike ride up the road and back, she was done. then she would be watching "gone with the wind." >> one monday in september, jesse went out for a bike ride, but just minutes later her sister noticed jesse's beloved bike down on its side in the middle of the road. >> not on the side of the road, in the middle of the road? >> yeah. she would put the kick stand up, never lay the bicycle down. i immediately went down there and there's the bicycle. i knew something was wrong.
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>> deputy sheriff gary miller was dispatched to the scene. >> the more we learned about the family, and the girl's background, we just didn't feel that she was staying away by choice. >> the haunting image of a bike tipped over and abandoned terrified all the investigators, and of course, jesse's family. >> i mean, you never lose the hope for them to not come walking in. you still hope that. i mean, we knew she was not just going to walk away. >> after six weeks, jesse's parents' worst fears were realized. her body, beaten and sexually violated, was discovered in a cornfield. >> it can never be easy telling a parent that their child is dead. >> no, it wasn't. but at least we were able to tell them, this is her, she's gone. we were able to erase all
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doubts. >> gary miller had a murder case to solve, and it was now a federal case involving prosecutor larry beaumont as well, since jesse's body actually had been found across the illinois state line. for the next year, miller did lots of legwork, but to no avail. >> every day you get up, are you thinking about this case? >> every day. >> what have i missed? >> exactly. >> i know this case really shook him from the beginning. he would check any and all leads that would involve young girls and run them down. >> then late in 1994, miller's persistent finally paid off. a man in a van had been reported chasing two teenage girls in jesse's hometown of georgetown. miller traced to a man a three-hour drive from georgetown. >> your heartbeat starting to pick up? >> oh, yeah, this has got to be checked out. >> miller learned that hall was a gung-ho civil war reactor, a
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pretend union soldier who traveled the midwest to fight fantasy battles. miller immediately drove to wabash to interview hall, who wasn't saying much. so miller showed him a photo of jesse roach. >> when i put the picture down, he flinched, raised his arm up and turned in his chair. and refused to look at the picture. >> convinced larry hall was hiding something, miller became obsessed with making a case against him. days later, back in illinois, miller turned up a huge lead. he found witnesses who vividly remembered hall from a revolutionary war reenactment in the georgetown area the very weekend before jesse was abducted. to them, hall stood out for his bushy mutton chop side burns. but also for playing a soldier who was fighting the wrong war. >> he was wearing a civil war uniform, and he had a civil war hat. >> at a revolutionary
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reenactment? >> exactly. >> armed with this new information, deputy sheriff miller returned to wabash for a second crack at hall. this time, he pressed his suspect harder, stressing that hall's fellow reenactors had seen him near georgetown. >> he came along to the point where he said, well, you know, i go to so many reenactments, i could have been there, and i just don't remember, because i go to a lot of them. >> he's giving a little more ground. >> yes, right. >> miller sees the opening and kept at it. finally he said hall came clean, and confessed that he abducted, sexually violated and strangled jesse roach to death. >> how much detail did he give you about the killing of jessica roach? >> very good detail. what he actually did, and what took place. >> not only that, miller says larry hall confessed to other killings, including a co-ed from indiana wesleyan university from marion, indiana. deputy sheriff miller didn't
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know much about tricia, so he called on the local indiana police who had been handling that case. but when marion detective jay kay and other indiana cops arrived, hall was suddenly telling a much different story. he denied confessing to any killing, including jesse's and tricia's. what's more, he claimed it was all a misunderstanding, about disturbing dreams he had. >> he takes us out to a location where, in my dreams, i strangled her here and left her lay here. we searched the woods, we
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searched the area and never really found anything. >> the indiana cops who were familiar with hall were not at all surprised by his actions. some of them, like jay kay, thought hall might be a wannabe, a pretender who gets his kicks from confessing to crimes he didn't commit. is it possible he's simply obsessed with these cases and not involved. >> there's no doubt in my mind that he does follow these cases, that he does read and is attracted to cases all over the country. you know, so the question does come, is he a wannabe. >> deputy sheriff miller and prosecutor beaumont, however, felt certain they had a real killer on their hands. a serial killer with a unique m.o. he would drive across the country to play reenactment and play fantasy soldier, and prey on young women and kill for real. >> the fbi started discovering girls who were in fact missing at these various areas at the time larry hall would have been there. >> but the only case for which prosecutors had sufficient evidence was jesse roach's. larry hall was arrested in connection with her death, even though he denied making that
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confession to miller. hall went on trial in 1995. as a prosecutor, what's the best card you're holding? >> we had a statement, his confession, saying he did it. >> beaumont called deputy sheriff miller to the stand to testify that hall had indeed admitted that he abducted and killed jesse after he spotted her with her bicycle. >> she was walking her bike at that point. >> miller testified that in his confession, hall gave him a detail that only the killer would know, that jesse was not riding her bike, but walking it, a safety precaution the roaches insisted she follow when she's on the narrow road. that was never in the press that she was walking her bike that day. >> right. >> when you heard that, did that give more credence to the story? >> oh, yes. >> oh, yeah, that just sealed it
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for me. i knew he was the one. >> a jury unanimously agreed. it took just three hours to convict larry hall. but prosecutor beaumont believed this was just the tip of the iceberg. he felt certain hall was a serial killer and now he had to find a way to prove it. so he began investigating tricia reitler's abduction, a case that wasn't his, for a family he didn't even know. >> i can't imagine sending my daughter off to school, and never seeing her again. >> and he came up with an outside the box scheme to get hall. which would risk the life of that charismatic convict he had just put away for dealing drugs, jimmy keene. >> what happens when i deal with all these crazy killers and stuff, what if i get shanked, what if i get killed, am i going to survive this. >> coming up, a get out of jail there's this island -- and it's got super-cute kangaroos.
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>> people typically don't admit sexual assaults and murders to police officers unless, many of the, they probably have done it. so it was clear, we felt, he was responsible for the tricia reitler disappearance. >> she had such a zest for life. and she would walk in the room and everybody knew she was there. >> tricia reitler, a 19-year-old psych major at indiana wesleyan university was on her way to becoming a family counselor. >> her goal was to be able to
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put families back together again. >> then, in march 1993, donna and gary reitler received that late-night phone call every rent dreads, a cop from marion, indiana, was on the line. >> he said, do you know where tricia is? in my heart, i knew that something was drastically wrong. >> tricia had walked to an off-campus supermarket, and never returned to her dorm. now, nearly 20 years later, her parents are still waiting. >> you purchased a cemetery plot. >> yes. >> no headstone. >> no, not until we find her. >> and we have no answers. and somebody out there -- that's what eats at me, somebody out there has that answer for us. >> tricia reitler wasn't even prosecutor beaumont's case, but he was deeply moved by her parents. >> that was always a horrible
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crime to me. i knew about the facts of the case and i knew about the family. i never met them, but i read all the newspaper articles and the accounts of them asking for help. >> beaumont felt certain that suspected serial killer larry hall was responsible. not only did hall live 25 minutes from indiana wesleyan, he had been identified chasing two co-eds there just a week after tricia went missing. so in the summer of 1995, a month after convicting hall for jesse roach's murder, beaumont was leading a search for tricia. it was in those same indiana back woods where hall had told indiana authorities he dreamt he killed and buried tricia. >> i wanted to feel like i did everything i could, to see if we could find her body. >> but after two days searching in sweltering heat and humidity, tricia's body didn't turn up. >> we couldn't find anything. it doesn't mean it waste there. >> then beaumont decided to try something completely different. >> i came up with the idea of putting someone in the prison cell with him to see if we could get him to tell us what he did with tricia reitler. most people did think i was
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crazy. but i was able to convince them we should do it anyway. >> enter jimmy keene, the drug dealer beaumont had just convicted and sent to a low-security prison. why did he stick out in your mind? >> because i knew he was kind of a con man. he was smart. i knew if anybody could pull it off, he would be the one to pull it off. >> you can go into a dangerous environment where a lot of people can't and you can maintain and protect yourself within an environment like that. >> in return, beaumont offered jimmy freedom. but first jimmy would have to exact more than a confession. >> i told him, unless we found the body, he would get no credit. no body, you get nothing. >> jimmy was skeptical. he was a drug dealer, not a criminal profiler. and he knew this was a mission impossible. he said no. but then fate intervened. jimmy's dad suffered a stroke. weeks later, frail and sickly,
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he came to visit jimmy. >> my dad was in a wheelchair. this is big jim, the guy that had been superman to me my whole entire life. we cried to each other through the window and talked for a while. he didn't even know about the offer. >> jimmy now realized that he had a one-time-only opportunity to fix the mess he'd made for himself, and get out while his dad was still alive. >> as soon as we were done with the visit, i called my lawyer and said, tell beaumont i'm going to take him up on his offer. >> the mission was on. so on august 3rd, 1998, federal marshals escorted jimmy into the psychiatric prison.
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>> once they stepped out the door, i was on my own. >> jimmy's cover story was that he was a convicted weapons runner whose 40-year sentence pushed him over the edge and landed him in the psych prison. a psych prison filled with killers. his one inside contact, the chief psychiatrist, couldn't protect him. nor could his outside lifeline, female fbi agent who visited as his girlfriend to monitor his progress. >> i did have a hotline to her, too. so if i got caught in a dangerous situation, i could get ahold of her, and the deal was they would have me out of there in 24 hours. >> they had your back. >> they had my back. >> at least you thought. >> at least i thought. >> when keene's mission began, it was all about him, his shot at freedom. he had few feelings, if any, about tricia reitler or her family. all he wanted was to get in and out with tricia's location, and as fast as possible. day one, breakfast in the mess hall. jimmy zeroed in on larry hall. >> i was waiting with my tray, and i look over and there he is, 20, 25 feet away from me, sitting there all by himself. it felt like a magnet was compelling me to come to him.
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finally i bumped shoulders with him on purpose. >> jimmy explained he was a brand-new inmate, needing directions to the library. hall obliged. >> i kind of slapped him on the shoulder and said, thanks a lot. i appreciate that, from a cool guy like you. >> after that, they occasionally talked. but the next step came when jimmy was invited to join hall's breakfast club. >> which in the prison system, it's a big thing of who you're invited to have your breakfast with. >> keene thought he was making progress, but then prison politics got in the way. >> i left the chow hall one morning, and a few really big muscular guys came up to me and said, hey, the old man wants to talk to you right now. right now he wants to talk to you. >> the old man was celebrity mafioso chin, the odd father who used to wander around new york city in his bathrobe pretending to be nuts. >> he goes, hey, boy, what's wrong with you? what's wrong with you? why are you hanging around with those baby killers there for? you hang with us from now on. you hang around them people, maybe somebody comes up and puts
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a knife in your back. and he would be at my cell early in the morning, jimmy, get up. we're going to go play some bache ball. >> it's all very nice, except you're trying to get out of prison. >> exactly. >> the chin was taking up jimmy's valuable time, making it harder to even talk to hall. but then he learned hall's favorite show was "america's most wanted." so one saturday night in the tv room, jimmy would make a daring move. putting his body on the line, just to gain larry's trust. coming up, jimmy's new best friend shares a nightmare. >> it was probably the hardest thing i've ever done in my life, to listen to this kind of stuff. and that just ripped him apart. >> when "the inside man" continues.
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by the fall of 1998, after several months in missouri's toughest federal prison, jimmy keene could have won a popularity contest. he charmed everyone, just as beaumont knew he would. he even won over some convicts with his lending library of pornographic magazines. and he had managed to placate the chin and the mob faction by
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day, while circling his prey, suspected serial killer larry hall with one-on-one bull sessions at night. >> we just talked about a lot of normal things, hung out, made him feel like i was wanting to be his friend. >> but it wasn't fast enough for keene, who feared someone might recognize him, and blow his cover. >> if you went by the fbi's technical terms, i was pretty much staying right on pace. but from my point of view of being in this place, it was starting to get very hard. >> on the outside, the mission mastermind, larry beaumont, could only sit and wait for secondhand news on how this crazy scheme of his was going. were you pacing the floors waiting for updates during all this? >> i don't know if i paced the floors, but i was eager to get updates. i had information he was starting to trust him. they were talking, that kind of thing. >> but beaumont had absolutely no idea that a break-through moment had arrived.
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it was a saturday night. keene and hall were in the prison's tv room watching "america's most wanted" again. >> here comes this big prisoner, and he's a big, muscular buff guy. he walked over to the tv and turned the channel. and hall looks at me and says, mumbles under his breath, he says, hey, that's not right. i was watching that. i thought, you know what, this is a prime opportunity for me. >> jimmy, a martial arts expert, who continued working out in prison, was ready for this moment. he got up and changed the channel back. >> he jumped up and he's slobbering all over the place, you turn that channel again i'll rip your head off! you don't touch that tv. he's going on all crazy and stuff. he turned the channel and sits back down. i just looked at him and turned the channel again. he jumped up and starts cussing at me. i finally threw a particular cuss word at him that i knew would set him off. as soon as i did, he took a wild haymaker swing at him. i come up with an upper cut and
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nailed him and kicked him through three rows of chair, and beat him to a pulp. >> hall had a ringside view of saturday night's event. he staunchly defended jimmy as the retaliator and not the instigator when they asked prisoners about the tv room brawl. you're larry hall's new hero. >> yeah, i became his new best friend and hero, too. >> jimmy could sense that his heroics brought him even closer to hall, and now he was ready to make a bold move. in the prison library, jimmy had figured out a strategy to draw hall out on tricia reitler. >> i noticed he was reading his hometown newspaper. that was really important eventually for me to start cracking into his psyche. >> even though the goal was trisha's body, jimmy decided to ask first about something already public knowledge, hall's conviction in the jesse roach case. jimmy fibbed that his mother lived near wabash and read about
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jesse's case and others involving hall. >> she gets that newspaper from that hometown where you're from. and i said, in all the newspaper stories, they say you've killed multiple women. >> that was a big risk. >> it all was a big risk. i said, larry, i don't care what you're in here for. just be honest with me. that's all. just tell me what happened. i'm still going to be your friend no matter what. i've had girls do me wrong in my life. i understand how girls can get under your skin and how they can be bothersome to you. >> jimmy said he pressed hall about jesse roach. at last, hall began to open up, recalling that september day in 1993. >> he was driving down a back country road and he seen her walking her bicycle. >> hall then told jimmy exactly how he abducted and killed jesse. >> you must have been revolted. >> oh, god. lester, it was probably the hardest thing i've ever done many my life to sit there and pretend to be his friend, to lisp to this kind of stuff, and not just rip him apart. but i knew what the mission involved, i knew what was at
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stake for me, what was at stake for the people's families who were still trying to find their daughters. >> a major transformation was taking place. jimmy was starting to care about more than just himself. and now he was determined to squeeze the most crucial confession out of larry hall, and not just for himself, but for the family of tricia reitler. >> i started thinking, i don't know where this is still going to lead, how long this is going to take, but something's now happening. >> coming up, a disturbing discovery. has jimmy keene solved the mystery of the missing girls. >> what are these? he said, they watch over the dead, jimmy. he said, they do. >> when "the inside man" continues. [ crickets chirping ] [ traffic passing ] ♪ [ music box: lullaby ] [ man on tv, indistinct ] ♪ [ lullaby continues ] [ baby coos ]
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don't start by lifting 400 pounds, running a marathon your first day out or jumping on some crazy fad diet. start small, because small changes are easier to stick with than the big ones the more you know. jimmy keene's five months of hell, five months making nice to a killer he despised, had finally paid off. hall had described in gruesome detail how he murdered jesse
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roach. >> i opened that door, and he's feeling that he can trust me enough now. >> but jimmy felt he needed to wait a bit before going for the goal line. >> i had to slowly keep prodding. i didn't want him to think i was piling on. >> so he carefully plotted his next move. days later he thought the time was right. he tried that hometown newspaper ploy again. >> i said, you know, the newspapers say that you killed this girl from the college over here. i said, what happened there? >> jimmy couldn't be sure how hall would react. had he been too blunt, too direct? no, it was all clicking. according to jimmy, hall began to open up about tricia, and said he drove his van right up to her that day he saw her outside school. >> he said that he tried to kiss her, and when he did, she started fighting very violently. he said she was a very strong girl and she fought stronger than anybody had ever fought before. >> did he admit it? >> he said that he had killed her, and he knew he had done it again. these are his words, that he knew he had done it again, and he said he went way out in the woods and buried her way out in
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the woods. >> jimmy needed more specific information. luckily, he seemed to stumble into it a few nights later when he spotted hall inside the prison wood shop, a restricted area. >> there's nobody at the door, no guards or anything. as i came up from behind him, he had all these little different statues lined up, 10, 15 of them maybe. and i couldn't tell what they were at first. as i got closer, i noticed he had a big map laid out. he dove on that map and folded that thing up really fast and slid it off to the side of the table. i was like, what are these things anyway? he said, they are these little falcons and they watch over the dead, jimmy, they do. they looked like a good size chess piece. >> jimmy had a feeling it was a journal keeping. >> that map had little red dots all over of it illinois, indiana, wisconsin. you looked down at this map and
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you could see all of those little spots are burial spots where he's got somebody. >> all those months of dangerous, painstaking work had paid off. jimmy had cracked the case. mission accomplished. once you see the map, the falcons, you want to tell the fbi about it, right? >> i did. i went to the hotline i had for the fbi girl. i called. i got some type of a voice recording, it was after hours. >> so jimmy left a message for his fbi contact to come get him, the map and the falcons, his freedom and the answers to tricia's parents' prayers were now just hours away. >> i was elated. i felt i wrapped this up. >> you're expecting the troops to come marching. >> expecting the troops to come marching in. it didn't quite work that way. >> what he couldn't know is his fbi contact didn't get his voicemail. and his one inside contact, the chief psychiatrist, was on vacation. you got a little full of yourself, didn't you? >> i did. i went back to my cell. i was really happy. i thought, you know what, 24
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hours, they said they'll have me out of here. i got what they need. this is it. so i went across to his cell over there. >> impulsively, jimmy decided he just couldn't leave prison without giving his fake friend a piece of his mind. >> the repulsiveness i felt throughout the whole time i had to stay being his friend, and the disdain and dislike i had for him, i thought it was good for me to unload on him and tell him what i really thought of him and who he really was. i said, you know, i'm going to be going home tomorrow, larry. you're a crazy killer. and i started calling him everything you can think of. >> with that, jimmy returned to his cell and waited to be released. you're going home the next day you think, and things took another turn. >> about 5:30 in the morning i hear some little lady in a white doctor's smock come walking in. >> it was hall's psychology, and she was furious that jimmy had blasted her patient, turning him into an emotional wreck. >> she told the guards to grab him, take him, throw him in the
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hole. so they put me in the hole. i'm not worried, so what, the fbi will be here. they told me 24 hours they'll have me out of here. >> but morning turned into afternoon, into evening. and the cavalry still hadn't arrived. this was hard time, at its hardest. >> you can't see if it's day or night, because you're in the hole. but you can tell what the time of the day or night it is by what meal's coming through the door slot. next thing you know, here's breakfast, lunch, dinner, here's coming breakfast, lunch. i thought, where are these guys. my thoughts were, they did me wrong. they got what they needed. they got the info and they pulled the rug out from under me. >> while jimmy was wondering where they were, beaumont was looking for him, too. >> we were like, where could he be? he's in the prison for god's sakes. >> they lost you. >> they lost me. >> but had they also lost their best chance at finding the body of tricia reitler. larry beaumont successfully
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larry beaumont successfully snuck informant jimmy keene into a springfield prison in 1998. he just didn't expect to lose him there. goes off your radar. >> he disappeared. a couple weeks we didn't know what the heck happened to him. we were getting frantic. >> two weeks later, only after keene's psychiatrist contact
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returned from vacation did they finally find jimmy. >> i knew the fbi was there. and she kept apologizing. she kept saying, i'm really sorry. something happened with the message. >> investigators got to search the wood shop and hall's cell. but by then, the map and the falcons, items jimmy believed could lead to tricia, were gone. what were you thinking telling larry hall you're out of here and dressing him down? >> people probably wouldn't understand the mounting pressure, that kettle is ready to boil over at any time. it just felt good to unload on the guy. >> the problem as i see it, you've unloaded on him, he knows you're against him. but nobody has that map. >> i'm disappointed i didn't wait another day or two at least. i should have waited a few more
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days. i wish i could have done more for them. but i did all i could do. >> meantime, the people who would benefit the most from a successful mission, tricia's parents, only learned about the operation ten years later in 2008 when the story came out in a "playboy" magazine article. the reitlers are thankful for jimmy's courage and the details he said he got from hall. but they're furious he blew his cover before finding their daughter. >> why would you have been so close and give it up like you did? >> i try not to dwell on that at all. because it eats at me. and it's very hard to deal with that he was that close. >> jesse roach's parents find small consolation in that jesse was the victim who tripped up hall. >> if something good could possibly come out of losing jesse, it's the fact he's in prison and he will never get released. >> hall remains in federal prison with no possibility of parole.
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in recent years, he actually has made more murder confessions, to reporters and investigators. >> i sincerely believe that there are young girls out there somewhere who are alive today because larry hall is in prison. >> do you think he's killed before? >> i think he killed before, and i think he would kill again. >> jimmy did tell beaumont that hall had killed again, but there was no documentation. it was just jimmy's word. so to be sure, the prosecutor
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made him take a lie detector test. and jimmy passed with flying colors. >> he was telling us the truth. so the bottom line is, we had further information that larry was responsible for tricia. >> a grateful beaumont decided to reward him for full credit for his brave undercover work, releasing him from prison and scrubbing his criminal record clean. >> from his perspective, he expected to get nothing. but from my perspective, of course, he spent time in the looney bin with this guy and went through this whole process. >> for 15 years, jimmy had been the only one to see those falcons that hall said watched over the dead. >> the problem is, we never got them. they disappeared. we don't know what happened to them. >> you've never seen the falcons? >> no. >> i want to show you a picture. >> that's one of the falcons. >> "dateline" took pictures of a falcon, when we met larry hall's twin brother. he said larry carved the falcon in the wood shop at the springfield prison, and then mailed it to their mother. i showed a photo of that falcon to both beaumont and jimmy. what's it like for you to see that after all these years? >> it's definitely bizarre. but it's also reassuring to me, lester, and i'll tell you why. now these falcons back up everything i said, this is exactly what it looked like. >> after becoming a free man in 1999, jimmy got to spend five more years with the father he idolized before big jim passed away.
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and he's kept his nose clean, not wasting his incredible opportunity. >> he sees the whole experience as something that gave him a second chance at life. >> he's done well in real estate, and co-wrote a book with author hillel levin, in with the devil, which tells jimmy's compelling story of redemption. he said he's now working on several hollywood projects, most notably the movie version of his book, the academy-award winning producer of departed is interested and owns flem rights. and brad pitt, from springfield, missouri, helms is interested. >> i've talked with brad pitt and his people, and brad pitt loves the relationship that i had with my father. he loves the fact that this happened in his own hometown. >> but jimmy is especially proud, he said, that his book reenergized some cold case investigations, several targeting hall in indiana and wisconsin. at least one near a civil war reenactment site. investigators recently dug up
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locations where hall spent time over the years. and found articles of women's clothing, and a belt modified with wooden handles, all sent out for dna testing. but cold case detectives following fresh leads still haven't developed enough evidence to bring charges. >> the walls are closing in on him. there would be no cold case files open if it weren't for me. none. i did a good deed, and i did a lot of good things, and that's where i feel the redemption comes in. i've done something good for the things that i did wrong. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us.
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